Capitol Hill’s cohousing pioneers are ready to move in on 12th Ave

The residents gathered for a rooftop portrait (Images: Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing)

The residents gathered for a rooftop portrait (Images: Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing)

“At some point you need to have that bigger vision in mind and that long term goal.”

Getting along with apartment building neighbors requires at least a modicum of social grace. Getting along with potentially lifelong neighbors that are also equal owners in a partnership to develop and own a building mandates serious training.

After breaking ground in 2014, and years of planning prior to that including classes in consensus decision making, the members of Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing are ready to move into their new home (and their 12th and Howell building is almost ready for them). You can get a sneak peek of the building on Saturday from 10 AM to 4PM as part of National Cohousing Open House day.

The 12th Ave cohousing development isn’t a traditional cooperative. CHUC residents are their own developers. While tenants in a cooperative or condo building have to eat the costs of a developer’s profit, CHUC residents say there are keeping their costs as low as possible and will essentially impose their own rent control once they have moved in. The nine families making up the community are all equal partners in an company that obtained a loan to develop the building.

Looking back on what it took to get to this point CHUC co-founder Mike Mariano paused when asked if he would do it all again.

“If you think about it too much, you would never do it,” said Mariano, a principal architect at Schemata Workshop. “At some point you need to have that bigger vision in mind and that long term goal.”

As Mariano and the rest of the CHUC members discovered, financing is not easy when you’re not trying to simply maximize profits. Developing the property as a community was a means to an end for CHUC — ends that include communal meals and work in the rooftop garden, longterm stability, and a tight-knit support group that will hopefully last a lifetime. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Financial trouble hits Tavern Law family of businesses

The Seattle Times this week has reported on the “financial trouble” and demise of Belltown’s Spur Gastropub, apparently a weak link in the food+drink chain of pubs, restaurants, and taverns assembled since the late 2000s by the chef duo of Brian McCracken and Dana Tough.

The McCracken-Tough Capitol Hill interests Tavern Law and The Old Sage, both men tell the Times, will not be closing.

That may well be. But Spur’s closure doesn’t mean the financial issues are solved. Court records reveal that earlier this month, King County Superior Court Judge John H. Chun signed a summary judgement detailing more than $1.2 million owed for a loan McCracken took from his father in 2009. Continue reading

Mayor Murray cuts the ribbon at 12th Ave Square Park

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(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

A stretch of warm and sunny days ahead will make this weekend the perfect time to check out Seattle’s newest park. Mayor Ed Murray helped cut the ribbon at the 12th Ave Square Park on Thursday alongside his husband, Michael Shiosaki, planning director at Seattle Parks and Recreation. Thursday’s celebration also included music by a Garfield High School jazz trio.

The park sits on the corner of 12th Ave and E James Court, across from Seattle University’s sports complex. It had been an empty lot until the land was transformed into a plaza-like park which unofficially opened in February at a cost of about $1.06 million.IMG_8250

At about 7,300 square feet and wedged between mixed-use housing, a cafe, and a restaurant, it’s on the smaller end of the park spectrum. To make the park pop, artist Ellen Sollod created the “Cloud Veil” — an installation of metal mesh and mirrors that hangs over the park space. The opening was also a milestone for the 12th Avenue Stewards group, which had long advocated for the park.

Though only the width of one block, Seattle Parks says the park’s woonerf “provides pedestrians and cyclists priority on the street,” and say the “technique of shared spaces, traffic calming, and low speed limits contribute to improved pedestrian, bicycle, and automobile safety.”

The Dimas Model: Sunset latest in Capitol Hill counter empire

Dimas (Image: Sunset Seattle)

Dimas (Image: Sunset Seattle)

There’s the happiest of partnerships blooming across Capitol Hill — and it is spreading to Portland.

Monica Dimas is putting what she hopes are the final touches for Sunset Fried Chicken Sandwiches this week, her latest symbiotic relationship with the drink-focused culinary creations of Rachel Marshall, creator of Rachel’s Ginger Beer and part of the ownership behind Montana and Nacho Borracho.

“It’s helped us grow together,” Dimas tells CHS. “Rachel’s business has become even more successful. It’s nice to be part of.

With the opening of Sunset — expected soooooon — Dimas will provide the food to Marshall’s drink at each of the three Capitol Hill venues.

Sunset will add a fried chicken sandwich counter inside Rachel’s Ginger Beer at 12th Ave Arts. Continue reading

With Cloud Veil rising above, celebrate the new 12th Ave Square Park

Felipe says he and Leeloo pass through the park at least twice a week (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Felipe says he and Leeloo pass through the park at least twice a week (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Dustin works nearby

Dustin works nearby

Ellen Sollod had been involved in designing the new 12th Ave Square Park from the early stages. At about 7,300 square feet and wedged between mixed-use housing, a cafe, and a restaurant, it’s on the smaller end of the park spectrum. So while everyone involved in the design wanted some central identifying feature, Sollod, an artist by trade, knew it shouldn’t be something that would “interrupt” the park, like a big sculpture might.

And so “Cloud Veil” was born, and installation of metal mesh and mirrors that hangs over the park space.

“It has a kind of a big top quality,” Sollod said, and along with the pillars which support the mesh, it helps define the space as being a room.

Thursday night, Seattle Parks will celebrate one of its newest open spaces with a ribbon-cutting and music.

The park sits on the corner of 12th Ave and E James Court, across from Seattle University’s sports complex. It had been an empty lot until the land was transformed into a plaza-like park which opened in February at a cost of about $1.06 million.

From the early stages, neighborhood residents, in particular the 12th Avenue Stewards group, had wanted to take a collaborative approach to the park’s design. The idea was for art to be integrated into the fabric of the park, rather than just tacked on at the end. Continue reading

Capitol Hill: Land of Seattle’s new ‘marketplaces’

Chophouse Row was full at its June 2015 grand opening (Image: CHS)

Chophouse Row was full at its June 2015 grand opening (Image: CHS)

There’s a nice portrait of two of Pike/Pine’s freshest preservation-friendly developments in the latest New York Times trends piece on Seattle’s new “marketplaces”:

Building on Seattle’s history of farmers’ markets and a strong food culture, new marketplaces are showcasing the local and unique, offering many choices for shopping, eating and connecting. For residents and tourists alike, these vibrant markets have become destinations all their own.

Liz Dunn’s Chophouse Row opened last June on 11th Ave between Pike and Union complete with high-tech office tenants above while here’s our coverage on the early efforts from Jerry Everard to redevelop the Central Agency building at 10th and Seneca which opened in late 2014. Both are now chock full of food and drink options and a few small niches of retail.

Both will also likely face the realities of small business.

The NYT doesn’t touch on the recent coverage of problems at the city and Capitol Hill’s original new-era marketplace, Melrose Market:

CHS spoke with Russ Flint of Rain Shadow and he says he is looking into working with SDOT’s Capitol Hill Construction Hub to address the current problems around street parking but said that he’s surprised the city expects business owners to take the lead on these kinds of problems. “Why are we policing construction workers?” Flint asked.

Dunn’s Melrose Market, of course, is the development that proved what Chophouse Row and Central Agency would work. The issues around small merchants struggling to stay in business inside the development are likely also proof that some tenants will struggle and close even “There’s a synergy by having places play off each other,” as Everard is quoted saying in the Times travel piece.

There’s hope. At Melrose, Flint told CHS last week he was just beginning to wend his way through City Hall’s offices to connect with new services put in place to help existing merchants better navigate the city’s ongoing waves of development. And cheesemonger Sheri LaVigne might be closing her Melrose Market cheese counter but she’s not shutting Calf and Kid down. Watch for her retail counter to reopen inside her 12th Ave cheese bar, Culture Club — located in the street-level retail space below, of all things, a Capitol Hill microhousing development. Watch for a NYT trend piece on that, soon.

Protest continues push to stop county’s new 12th Ave Children and Family Justice Center

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

IMG_1002The City of Seattle has yet to issue the permits necessary to build a new King County Children and Family Justice Center at the site of the current youth jail at 12th and Alder. But planners for the euphemistically titled project are moving forward. On February 29th, an application to demolish the northern portion of the current facility was filed with the city. A week an a half earlier, the paperwork began for the new “phased” construction project to “construct a new youth services center building with courtroom, office, detention housing and school, and occupy per plan.”

Sunday, more than 200 people showed up for a camp and information tent protest to call for the city to never approve those permits for the county project because of ongoing concerns about racial disparity in the justice system and frustrations over building a brand new facility that they say perpetuates it. Continue reading

Big apartment company grabs another Capitol Hill building

Chicago-based Equity Residential is quadrupling down on Capitol Hill with yet another apartment building acquisition.

A $25.9 million purchase of the Packard Building at 12th and Pine now puts the company’s total outlay across the Hill at nearly $106 million. The transaction, first reported by the Puget Sound Business Journal earlier this week, puts Equity in control of 270 apartment units across three Capitol Hill buildings.

It is planning to hold at least another 140 after acquiring the Piecora’s property for $10.3 million in the spring of 2014 and moving forward on a planned six-story development that includes parking for 140 cars at E Madison and 14th. A design review for the project slated for last month was abruptly canceled. Continue reading

Live from E Jefferson, Seattle’s first low-power FM station KXSU ready to hit airwaves

(Image: Seattle U)

(Image: Seattle U)

Friday, Capitol Hill will get a new option on the FM radio dial. KXSU, a station operated by Seattle University and part of a small wave of tiny, low-power FM stations planned for the city, will be live on the air at 102.1 FM starting at 10:21 A.M.

“Starting Friday, you’ll be able to listen in your car,” John Carter, faculty advisor for the station, said. The new signal will also give area merchants with old school radio set-ups another option beyond KEXP and will add a new hyperlocal voice to the area’s media options.

The school has operated a radio station since 1994 but it has only been available in the school’s dorms and online at

UPDATE 2/26/16 10:30 AM: Here’s what the first 10 seconds sounded like, complete with dramatic silence before the call letters cracked to life:

The plan started in 2012, when the station had to get permission internally from the university. In 2014, the Federal Communications Commission granted 15 licenses for low-power FM stations in Washington, seven of which are in Seattle. Only one of the 15, Voice of Vashon, is on the air. Seattle University is poised to be the first of the seven Seattle stations to put its license to use.

Another nearby low-power station, the Central District-based Hollow Earth Radio has had a more difficult time raising funding for the low-power endeavor. The station, KHUH 100.3 FM, recently completed an Indiegogo campaign and was able to raise more than $27,000 to help cover startup costs such as putting up a radio tower and complete engineering studies. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | 25 beers and counting, Outer Planet makes first orbit around the sun


Martins, left, and Stoccardo (Images: CHS)

Martins, left, and Stoccardo (Images: CHS)

The beauty of pulling up a stool at Capitol Hill’s only “nano brewery” is having a front row seat to the beer making action. Show up to Outer Planet just after opening and you may be sharing the bar with an Erlenmeyer flask as the owners dart between pouring beers and making new ones.

As the 12th Ave brewery and taproom puts a cap on year one, owners James Stoccardo and Renato Martins have conquered a steep learning curve and some severe space constraints to turnout an impressive range of handmade beer.

“You start to get to know what you’re doing after 100 batches of beer,” Stoccardo said. To celebrate its anniversary, the brewery kept things low key last weekend with a taco truck and live music.

Over the past year, Outer Planet has rotated through roughly 25 beer styles.
The ESB was a surprise hit, Stoccardo said, and the pilsner experiment-turned-recipe still takes a turn on the menu. The newest brew is Outer Planet’s first attempt at a sour — a German gose. The brewery typically rolls out two new beers a month and keeping beer lovers up to date though social media has been invaluable, Stoccardo said. Continue reading